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Get Spangled…

Just because I haven’t done any for a while, I thought I’d have another go at creating one of my peculiar sonic soundscapes at the weekend.
And since I can never resist adding a visual element to these little experiments, I made one of my lo-tech videos to accompany the new tune.

That’s it, just that.

And here it is, “SPANGLES”, in all its twinkly glory.
Enjoy.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in aardvark, Animation, Arts, Music, Photography, Video

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 1…

image Welcome, one and all, to the first installment of this new archival plundering of my music collection, this time via the little plastic cases of wonder/frustration we folks from the olden days knew as cassettes, or simply “tapes”.

Melodic Randomiser Unspooled will follow the same pattern as the CD version; I shall occasionally dip into my vintage cassette library, progressing through the various boxes of pre- and  home-recorded albums and compilations, posting videos and links to whatever random example of magnetically preserved masterpiece takes my fancy from each trio of tapes.

Since the same principal of chaotic disorganization that ruled my CD racks has been applied to storing my tapes, you never know what sort of strange brew you’ll end up with, with today’s first mixtape being a fine example.

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The Steve Miller band had several pretty big hits, one of them briefly resurrecting Steve’s career, by way of its use in a jeans commercial, although the  track I’ve chosen today isn’t one of his most memorable songs.
This is probably due to the fact that it comes from the 1984 release, Italian X-rays, a bad enough name for an album as it is, without adding insult to injury by swamping any remaining musical credibility with horrible cheesy ’80s synth lines.

I thought I’d go the whole hog and play the one track that’s completely synth-based. I mean, when you’re dealing with cheese, there’s no point in going for half measures is there?

Here’s Bongo Bongo, terrible eighties animated video and all.

Next up, a mixtape in itself, one made for me by a friend, (that noble, pre-internet tradition of music sharing; Hello and thank you, Nick) kicking off with Side One, Various Artists and the first of two tracks, Richard Warren‘s multi-genre project, Echoboy and a song called Kit And Holly

…followed by another man whose style is impossible to pigeonhole, Johnny Dowd and the fabulous Monkey Run.

Side two has a definite theme, beginning with a few songs from Talking Heads Fear Of Music album and I’ve chosen this characteristically spiky offering, Paper

…segueing nicely into a couple of solo David Byrne songs, my favourite of which is this joyously percussive slice of eccentrica, Look Into The Eyeball.

So far, so varied, but tape number three ups the eclecticism ante somewhat, containing as it does a radio recording from ten years ago.
BBC Radio’s One’s “Peel Day” was a celebration of the life and work of veteran DJ, champion of unsigned bands and national treasure, John Peel, who tragically died one year earlier.
The live, all night broadcast featured interviews, live performances and archive sessions by bands and artists who had been mentored by John, had appeared on the show, or were simply inspired to make music by listening to his legendary late night transmissions, from both the BBC and the studio at his family’s home, “Peel Acres”.

The first track that came on when I pressed play (sacrilegiously, the tape hadn’t been rewound!) was instantly recognisable as one of the so called “world music” artists to get regular airplay on John’s show, Kanda Bongo Man.
Listening to Peel was what introduced me to the frenetic rhythms of African music, especially the sort of lively guitar sounds associated with music from Soweto and the Belgian Congo (now called Zaire).
This song from the Congolese superstar reminds me of that thrill of new musical discovery, all those years ago.

This is Sai.

Then, in typical Peel fashion, I was treated to this historic live session recording of Whole Lotta Love by rock’s Golden Gods, Led Zeppelin, from way back in 1969.

Side two of the last in my opening salvo of jukebox tom-spoolery begins with something that, again, couldn’t be more different, a live performance from hardcore electronic experimentalist, Kid 606 and from that set I’ve chosen this, the original video for The Illness.

Which only leaves us with the final song they played in tribute to one of radio’s greatest exponents of new music, the song of which John Peel once said;

“If they ever do a tribute show for me when I die, this’ll be the last song they play.”

A fitting end then, to the inaugural post of the Melodic Randomiser‘s return; ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for Roy Harper and When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease.

Thank you for listening.

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Gadgets, gizmos and musical mandalas…

Yes, I’ve been fiddling with technology again, in pursuit of new and interesting forms of audio visual entertainment.

The latest addition to my electronic arsenal is nothing fancy or complicated however, in fact it’s nothing more than a child’s toy.
The Android phone application, Magic Paint Kaleidoscope, is a digital art maker that enables you to produce an infinite number of fantastic patterns in a variety of shapes and colours, just like the ones I remember seeing through the eyepiece of a cheap tin tube filled with glass beads when I was a kid, but with an added twist.
Once you have created your patterns, you can play them back, watching them evolve from blank page to mind-bending, multi-coloured mandalas before your eyes.

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Having got the hang of switching between colours and styles, discovering how to create specific designs by using various parts of the screen and managing to make some pretty pictures with vibrant colours and a distinctly psychedelic flavour, I began to consider the animation possibilities of this new gadget.

My first idea was to add small amounts of the design at a time, taking individual frames of each stage and then animating them to show the build up of the pattern, then possibly adding music to the resulting clip.
This worked fine, but it made for a rather jarring animation, each new layer of the design appearing instantly over the previous one, without the smooth drawing action I was after.
That was when it occurred to me to simply film the playback of the pattern and then dub music over it afterwards.

I hadn’t got as far as composing a custom soundtrack for the finished video at this point, so I used an old piece of music that I made a few months back, called Gothic, and simply kept adding to my pattern until the running time was the same as the music.
This is the result. I call it Kaleidogothic.

I watched it about half a dozen times before I stopped being incredibly impressed with my own staggering genius, (a fairly standard reaction I have to any flash of brilliant inspiration that comes to me) and then started work on a custom made, fully synchronised, bespoke tune for an all new project.

I turned to my trusty Oscilab loop maker/sequencer and, whilst watching the kaleidoscopic masterpiece that I’d carefully created, playing back on my phone, I composed and recorded a live mix on my tablet that fitted perfectly with the evolving patterns in front of me.
After that it was simply a matter of dubbing the sound over the visuals and voila! an original artwork with specially composed soundtrack.

So with no more ado than saying that I hope you enjoy my latest composition, allow me to present Psycheleidoscope.

I tend to get on a bit of a roll once I find a new muse, so I continued to play with musical ideas, attempting more of a long-form piece, without the accompanying visuals.
The result is an eight minute trance-like psychedelic jam, that I have uploaded to Soundcloud, which reminds me of the motorik rhythms of Krautrock.

So, lay back, close your eyes and chill out to the sound of Motorix.

MOTORIX – CLICK LINK

{All the audio visual experiments you could ever want are of course available via my Sound and Vision page}

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2014 in aardvark, Animation, Arts, Music, Photography

 

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Hodown – A musical interlude…

Old friend and blog artist-in-residence, Ho and I have always exchanged some sort of musical birthday gifts.
Whether it was the good old days of the meticulously compiled mixtape, made on C-90 cassettes (of which I still have hundreds) and back-timed to within seconds of the running time, or digging something interesting out of the CD racks in the local record shop to put in the post, or nowadays maybe just sending a few mp3 files via e-mail, we’ve been giving each other new stuff to listen to for thirty years.

Well, this year I thought that, due to;
a) having a permanent mental block on the date of Ho’s birthday
b) having no money, and
c) having run out of excuses
that I’d make Ho’s musical birthday present instead.
I mean, a homemade gift is far better than one you’d buy in the shops, right? (Go with me on this, ok)

Without further ado, I turned to my trusty Pocketband loop making app and began tinkering.
What eventually emerged was a little something I call Hodown. (in no way does this indicate any similarity with barn dances) and you can listen to it in all its glory via the link below.

It will also get a permanent slot on the Sound and vision… page and for those of you who have yet to sample my sonic experiments and animation projects, why not go check that out while you’re here.

So Ho, ladies and gentlemen, readers, followers, and haters of the “Oxford comma” everywhere, put your hands over your ears together for….

                     
      Link>>> HODOWN <<<Link

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Please let me know what you think.

Happy birthday Ho.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Animation, Arts, Ho., Music, Personal anecdote

 

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